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The Women of Homer’s Odyssey

The Women of Homer’s Odyssey

Homer’s Odyssey, by, is typically seen as a male dominated poem: the hero is male and the majority of the characters are male. We follow the men on their attempt to return to Ithaca. However, even though women are not the main characters, they are omnipresent through much of the story. Women play a very important role in the movement of the story line: they all want to marry, help or hurt Odysseus. During the course of his journey, Odysseus meets three different women who want him to be their husband: Circe, Calypso, Nausicca, and finally one woman who is his true wife: Penelope. Each of these women has a profound effect on Odysseus journey home. Yet, even though these women are much more powerful than ordinary Greek women are they still carry some semblance of the “good female” in Greek society.

Circe, though not the first female we meet in Odyssey, is the first woman Odysseus meets on his journey home from the Trojan War. She is no ordinary woman! She is not kept separate from men outside of her oikos as proper women are supposed to be (Pomeroy 21). Good Greek women are to be chaperoned by a male member of their oikos whenever they are in the presence of strange men. “The visitor to the Greek house would meet only the male members of the family; when strangers were in the house t…

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…r husband and they all attempt to accomplish this in different ways. It is interesting to see that even though there are numerous men in the story the women seem to weld power over Odysseus’ journey: holding him hostage or letting him go according to the various women. The fact that all the women are depicted as slightly evil (save Penelope, of course) seems to give evidence to the fact that Greek men are wary of the power of unconfined, unchaperoned women.

Works Cited

Homer. The Odyssey. Trans. Robert Fagles. New York: 1996

Kebric, R.B. Greek People. 2nd ed. London: 1997.

Pomeroy, S.B. Families in Classical and Hellenistic Greece. New York: 1997.

Justice and Injustice in Moliere’s Tartuffe

Justice and Injustice in Tartuffe

A theme of the play Tartuffe is justice. Justice, or the lack of justice, can be seen in the relationship between father and son, father and daughter, and guest and host. Lacanian philosophy, which focuses on language and the conflict that the male feels due to a disintegration of oneness, can be used to look at injustice as it manifests itself in the male conflict within the play.

According to Lacan, a male child experiences conflict with his father, who is associated with language and thus otherness. Once a child enters into the world of language he loses his sense of unity with his mother. In Tartuffe the father, Orgon is in conflict with his son, Damis. Damis is a rash person who does not think things completely through before choosing a course of action, as seen when he says abruptly, “I’ll go and tell [Tartuffe] off-, I’m out of patience” (3. 1. 10). He verbally spars with his father, who is completely infatuated with the behavior of Tartuffe, to see Tartuffe for what he is. After eavesdropping on the conversation between Elmire, the wife of Orgon, and Tartuffe, Damis is convinced that he has the evidence that he needs to convince Orgon of his position, as indicated when he says, “And now I’ve proof that can’t he disbelieved Proof that was furnished me by Heaven above” (3.4.24-25). 1 le then goes to destroy his father’s view of Tartuffe.

Orgon, however, upon hearing that Damis has caught Tartuffe trying to seduce Elmire, immediately takes a defensive stance and instead of believing his own son, claims the accusation is false and defends the stranger saying, “Ah, you deceitful boy, how dare you try / To stain his purity with so foul a lie?” (3.6.15-16). He scolds him:…

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…time a just man before he met Tartuffe.

There is much injustice in the play Tartuffe. This injustice as well as the justice that triumphs often comes through the use of language for the purpose of establishing either law or love. Sometimes a character takes on this language by association with other characters, and other times in reaction to the use of this language by other characters. Regardless of the source, language is a common medium for the expression of justice or its opposite. This language is used by characters as a result of the conflict that a male feels as described by Lacan, which more often that not, results in the expression of injustice. The expression of injustice is language-based because the male, by being exposed to language, is thrust into a world of alienation, and has experienced injustice from his first experience with language.

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